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The Story of the ConscienceKeeper


Arunav Patnaik

BEFORE MEMORY FADES...: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
By Fali S. Nariman
Hay House India, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 459, Rs. 599.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 5 May 2011

Fali S. Nariman is an eminent Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of India with a legal career spanning six decades. Having come into practice immediately after the adoption of the Indian Constitution he has grown with it to be one of its foremost experts. The book is styled as an autobiography and one starts with the hope that it would give insights into the titbits of the life of Mr. Nariman, a most revered figure in the Indian legal firmament.   Always remember, Fali, it is better to spend more time thinking about a case than merely reading the brief, Nariman recalls the advice of Chandubhai (C.K. Daphtary, former Attorney General of India). The chapter on legal practice meant for young lawyersLessons in the School of Hard Knocksgives advice on various techniques of practice and fundamental mistakes in court rooms that one must avoid. About Sir Jamshedji Kanga, the doyen of the Bombay bar, under whose pupilage he trained as a lawyer, Nariman speaks most lovingly. He also gives the reader a good feel of the buzz in Kangas chambers in the 1950s and practice in Bombay High Court in those days (More Watching Than Pleading). Many young legal practitioners draw solace from the experiences of an eminent lawyer narrated in his biographical accounts about his early days in practice. Though Nariman is a first generation lawyer, he does not share with the reader his pains and frustrations at the Bar during his early years.   The book tries to follow a chronology in the sequence and title of the chapters: his initial phase in the Bombay bar, his Move to Delhi, Emergency, Some Reflections: Post Emergency, while taking the reader through a discussion of the epochal constitutional casesGolakh Nath, Kesavananda Bharti and ADM Jabalpur cases.   The most fascinating depiction of Narimans intellect in the book is the chapter on About Some Judges of the Supreme Court. He remembers the history of the Supreme Court by two different erasthe Subba Rao era and the Krishna Iyer era, by the names of two preeminent judges of the Supreme Court and discusses their various decisions and styles. No doubt Justice Rao and Justice Iyer were judges with powerful intellectsone pulled the Court to the right and the other to the left. However, identifying their times with their individual personalities may not do justice to the contribution of many others and their varying ...


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